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National must come clean on Brethren

National must come clean on Brethren

The National Party needs to come clean about how much it knew about an anti-government leaflet campaign funded by members of the Exclusive Brethren Church, Labour MP Pete Hodgson said tonight.

At a press conference today seven businessmen who are members of the Exclusive Brethren Church admitted they were responsible for the leaflet campaign.

“Dr Brash’s decision today to abruptly terminate an interview with media about the issue suggests it is causing the National Party much discomfort,” Mr Hodgson said.

“The leaflets contain a number of lies and distortions about Labour and the Greens, and it is difficult to believe that National were not aware of the campaign.

“We now know that Dr Brash met with Exclusive Brethren members a month ago, and that he was offered ‘prayerful’ support.

“A former Exclusive Brethren member has been reported today as saying that the church has been visiting National Party MPs to discuss election issues, and we have reports of Brethren Church members helping the National Party to erect hoardings and to carry out telephone canvassing.

“We also know that National deputy leader Gerry Brownlee told National Radio today that his party was not involved in the ‘preparation’ of the pamphlets. He refused to deny having knowledge of the leaflet smear campaign.

“The Exclusive Brethren Church and its members can do whatever they like in terms of producing and distributing election material, so long as it complies with the law.

“But we are challenging Dr Brash to front up and answer the question that he declined to address at today’s encounter with media: did the Brethren Church tell him or any other National Party MPs about the leaflet drop?

“National are not being up front about the extent of their links with Exclusive Brethrens, and New Zealanders deserve to know the truth,” Mr Hodgson said.

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